Obtaining Property by Deception & Making off without payment

Obtaining Property by Deception

Section 15 of the Theft Act 1968 defines the criminal offence of obtaining property by deception. Section 15 describes the offence as being committed by one who by deception dishonestly obtains property belonging to another, with the intention of permanently depriving him of it.

Accordingly, in order to establish the criminal offence of obtaining property by deception the following elements must be present:

  • Obtaining

  • Property

  • Belonging to Another

  • Deception

  • Dishonesty

Do all of the above elements have to be established?

It has been held in criminal court proceedings that all of the above elements need to be proven in order for Section 15 obtaining property by deception to be established. If one of the elements cannot be established then the defendant will be acquitted of the charges.

What is the standard that needs to be proven?

In order for each of the above elements to be proven the standard which must be established by the court is that of beyond reasonable doubt.

Obtaining

According to Section 15(2) of the Theft Act 1968 obtaining occurs when a person acquires ownership, possession or control. The definition also includes obtaining for another or enabling another to obtain or retain. It is important to note the link between obtaining and deception. In order for the offence to be proven the property must have been obtained by deception, it is not enough to simply prove that the defendant had obtained the property.

Property

Section 4 of the Theft Act 1968 defines property as including money and all other property, real or personal including things in action and other intangible property. In most cases of obtaining property by deception the property is likely to be money or something similar.

Belonging to Another

Section 5 of the Theft Act 1968 states that property shall be regarded as belonging to any person having possession or control over it, or any proprietary right or interest.

If for example money in someone’s bank account would clearly fall squarely within the definition of property belonging to another.

What is the position in relation to an electronic bank transfer?

According to case law an electronic transfer between banks cannot count as property belonging to another.

Is there anything which can be done in a case concerning this?

Section 15 of the Theft Act deals with a situation whereby one dishonestly obtains a money transfer for himself or another creating the criminal offence of Obtaining a Money Transfer by Deception, which could be used as an alternative for obtaining property by deception.

Obtaining a Money Transfer by Deception

Under Section 15 of the Theft Act a transfer occurs when a debit is made to one account and a credit is made to another.

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For more information on:

  • Deception
  • Example of obtaining property by deception
  • Dishonesty
  • What are the sentencing guidelines for this offence?
  • Making off Without Payment
  • Other offences present
  • What needs to be established?
  • Making off
  • Without payment
  • Intention to make permanent default
  • What are the sentencing guidelines for this offence?